Empathy is when you put yourself in the other people’s shoes. It is an important factor for you to respond appropriately to the situation. However, empaths extend more to that. Empaths understand others to a significant level. They feel what other people are going through in their own bodies. It is more in-depth. Hence, empaths can be highly compassionate towards others.
But, the same as humans, too much stimuli may overwhelm them. Mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Stimuli such as crowds, media, and negativity can burn them out. This is due to the mirror neurons.
Want to learn if you’re an Empath? Check this article out: 5 Signs You Are An Empath.
If you’re an exhausted empath, this is the right place for you. Most of the time you only have 3 things to work on: GROUNDING, SHIELDING, AND SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.
But how can you exactly do these? And what are these? Here are thorough 7 self-care tips categorized for exhausted empaths.
It is the act of focusing in the present. What is happening to you physically, mentally, and emotionally at the present. The brain is made up of multiple networks of functionally correlated brain areas, especially the default-mode network (DMN). Grounding techniques reduce activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN). Low levels of DMN contributes to self-referential processing. Below are two simple ways to ground an exhausted empath:
1. Spend time with Nature
Relaxing or taking a walk in nature can bring peace to an empath. Based on research it can reduce negative feelings such as anger, fear, and stress. Feelings which may overwhelm an empath. This is caused by the color of green and beautiful scenery which can reduce the production of the stress hormone. Based on a study using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity, participants who viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up. Empaths who are in urban areas may decide to add in a few plants in their home to feel more at ease.
It involves maintaining attention on what is currently happening and away from distractions. Empaths may need to practice this consistently and constantly. This enables them to maintain a peaceful state of mind. The part of the brain which handles human emotion and behavior is the amygdala. Based on Desbordes’ research using fMRI, it showed changes in brain activity in the amygdala to those who learned meditating. It portrayed steady brain activity in the amygdala, while they were meditating and while they were performing everyday tasks. Since the amygdala is often associated with the body’s fear and stress responses, the results show
Functional MFRI (left) showing activation in the amygdala when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation. After eight weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training. Courtesy of Gaelle Desbordes (https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/)
Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a health relationship, they’re a sign of self-respect. For many of us, setting healthy boundaries is a new concept and a struggle. Although boundaries may vary from one person to another, we must begin somewhere and identify these boundaries, right? Here are 2 simple steps to begin with your journey of setting healthy boundaries for exhausted empaths:
3. Self-awareness: Does this make me feel uncomfortable?
Knowing where you stand helps you make good boundaries. To do this, identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. Most of the time you can identify your limits with your feelings. Feelings such as discomfort and resentment mostly resemble what you can tolerate and not accept.
4. Assert your limits
After identifying your limits, communicate them to others and to yourself as well. In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you. For this to work, you must follow through. This doesn’t happen overnight but know that everytime you assert your limits, you are respecting yourself.
“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support.” – Psychologist and Life Coach Dana Gionta Ph.D.
To protect from danger, risk, or unpleasant experience. Aside from physical harm, too much negativity and uncomfortable feelings may lead to a burned out empath. It is putting your healthy boundaries into action. Here are 3 ways to protect exhausted empaths:
5. Unplug from social media
Media brings excitement as well as sadness, fear, and uncertainty. Unplugging from these kinds of entertainments such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more may bring peace to an empath. Given that empaths absorb others negative energy, an empath’s mind may seem biased towards the negative. It may impair one’s ability to sleep and cope with traumatic events. A social media detox may be antsy at first. But with discipline and perseverance, you will reap what you sow.
6. Practice saying No
Most of the time empaths are people pleasers. Do not let other people use you as a doormat. As Dr. Susan Cain said, “To survive and thrive, you need to set limits with people.” Even a simple “No” is perfectly fine! Always remember to acknowledge your feelings and others as well. “I’ll respond to you in a while when I am in the right mindset.” or be straightforward and say you understand them but you need to set limitations to respect yourself. Stand up for yourself and take care of yourself! You are not responsible for anybody’s pain. You are your own responsibility.
7. Power of your voice: Can you control it or not?
As empaths absorb the energy around them, one must think “Can I control this or not?” If not, let it go. Dr. Susan Cain firmly suggests to repeat the mantra while slowly breathing in and out: Return to sender, return to sender, return to sender. She believes the power of your voice can release the negativity out of your body. If you can control it, breathe in and out slowly. You need to give yourself time to think. Believe me, thinking of a solution while you’re overwhelmed is the worst.
In a world filled with negativity and chaos, it is important to look after yourself, whether you are an empath or not. Especially when it comes to your physical and mental well-being. When we’re in a better place, mentally and physically, we can be better for other people.
Some of the techniques presented may not give you ease overnight or immediately, but know that these things take time and will help you feel less exhausted as an individual. We all have different ways of coping with feeling burned out. No one is the same. However, self-care isn’t limited to what we do after or during the burn out. But what we do to prevent feeling exhausted matters the most.
By applying these techniques to your life, you will feel more at ease and less exhausted when the time comes. In this pandemic, we at Psych2Go aim to spread awareness, support, and educate you about the importance of yours and others mental well-being. Especially during this pandemic.
Spread positivity and love everyone! Most importantly, take care of yourselves.
Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11(3), 201-230.
Garrison, K. A., Zeffiro, T. A., Scheinost, D., Constable, R. T., & Brewer, J. A. (2015). Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience, 15(3), 712–720. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13415-015-0358-3
Margarita Tartakovsky, M. (2016, May 17). 10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries#1
Cain, S. (2017, June 13). 9 Self-Protection Strategies for Empaths. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.quietrev.com/9-self-protection-strategies-for-empaths/
Refuge, E. (Director). (2019, November 13). 9 Self-Care Tips for Exhausted Empaths [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTVno82PD7I&feature=youtu.be